31 Days of Real Food Reality Re-Cap

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and interaction during our 31 Days of Real Food Reality! In case you’d like to go back and look through any of the posts for encouragement and information, I’ve listed them all for you here. (Now, what in the world should we do in February?)  :)

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Day 1   The Reality is, We Can’t Do This Without God’s Help
Day 2   One Step at a Time
Day 3   Let’s Talk About Fat
Day 4   God is Bigger Than a Free Range Chicken
Day 5   Real Food Menu Plan – Be Flexible
Day 6   Food is Nourishment. What a Concept.
Day 7   Tropical Traditions Real Food Package Giveaway
Day 8   Real Food Reality Resource Package Discount
Day 9    Stop Calling it Health Food
Day 10  Cheeseburger Soup for $1 Per Person
Day 11  What Healthy Food Should I Have On Hand?
Day 12  Real Food Menu Plan – Keep it Simple
Day 13  31 Real Food Breakfast Ideas
Day 14  Focus on Stocking Your Kitchen With Real Food Ingredients
Day 15  Sugar Should Be a Treat
Day 16  How to Always Have Fruits and Vegetables to Serve With a Meal
Day 17  Let’s Not Make This Difficult – Easy Orange Chicken
Day 18  You Are What You Drink
Day 19  Real Food Menu Plan – Branching Out and Eating a Variety
Day 20  How to Pack a Healthy Lunch
Day 21  Making Buttermilk, Kefir, and Yogurt is Easy
Day 22  Make Real Food Mixes to Save Time and Money
Day 23  Chocolate Cheesecake Pie – Real Food Ingredients Make Real Good Treats
Day 24  Want to Eat Right? Plan Ahead.
Day 25  You CAN Save Money on Whole Foods
Day 26  Real Food Menu Plan – Have Fun!
Day 27  What I Learned in Laura’s Kitchen (a Real Food Reality Guest Post)
Day 28  Drink Your Nourishment
Day 29  How to Roast Vegetables
Day 30  How to Feed Picky Eaters Healthy Food
Day 31  Real Food: Does It Even Matter?

Real Food: Does it Even Matter? {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 31}

Abuse. Violence. Hurting people. Sex trafficking. Starving children. Neglect. Guilt. Fear. Hopelessness. Depression. The lost.

In light of all the yuck in the world, I had to ask myself recently:  Does talking so much about eating healthy food really even matter? Is it worth all the attention we’re giving it? Isn’t God bigger than a free range chicken anyway? Why all this focus on what we should and should not be eating?

These are the thoughts that came to me a few nights ago while Matt and I were having a heartbreaking discussion about some friends with a broken marriage. Splintered families make talk of cultured raw dairy products and homemade beef stock seem trivial and downright pointless. Why focus on this real food thing? Why spend time writing to encourage us to eat vegetables when children are hurting and people need Jesus?

I don’t even know. Real food matters. But it doesn’t really even matter.

Real Food Does It Even Matter

Here’s why it matters:  Because God calls us to take care of our bodies, His temple. It matters because if we aren’t healthy, we can’t serve – plain and simple. I can’t even think straight when I’m eating too much sugar and junk. My brain becomes cloudy and I accomplish nothing when I’m not eating right. Real food matters because I need nourishment in order to be what God calls me to be.

But I need real food to be in the background of my life – not as my main focus. Eating fruits and vegetables and healthy protein and good fats need to be a habit we live by, not an idol we worship.

God is bigger than all of the multi-vitamin supplements, the whole food recipes, and the debates over saturated fat. There are hurting people out there who wish we would stop arguing already about what causes high cholesterol so that we can instead come offer them the love they so desperately need.

I’m going to keep eating butter and coconut oil. I’ll keep pushing the fruits and vegetables, and yep, I’ll even keep making and drinking raw cultured dairy products. I’ll go so far as to continue to encourage you to do the same. Because it matters.

But our relationship with the Savior and with others matters more. If I’m so focused on preparing and serving the best of the best that I lose sight of those God has called me to love – then it seems that I’ve forgotten what really matters.

Does real food matter? Yes, no, definitely, sort of, maybe, and who really cares? I believe God calls us to a higher focus. One that involves laying our lives down for Him, taking up our cross, and loving as Jesus loves. Real food is simply a tool He’s given us to make us the best we can be for Him.

And that’s what really matters.

How to Feed Picky Eaters Healthy Food {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 30}

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“Manna!!! The children of Israel had to eat manna in the desert for forty long years – for every meal, every day, without any variety or even a pat of butter to spread over the top. I bet it got old and yes, they did complain like whiny children, which God scolded them for. Today, I made you scrambled eggs with cheese, homemade turkey sausage, and juicy oranges. I’ve given you homemade chicken strips, sliced sweet peppers from our garden, and a glass of fresh milk from the farm. Do you really want to complain to me about this here raspberry smoothie with real cream and maple syrup I just put in front of you?  I don’t think so!”

That’s what I want to say to my children when they turn their noses up at my hard work and healthy food options. They really have no idea how good they have it. None of us do, really. We are all incredibly blessed with the food options we have – even if our budgets do keep us from expanding beyond some lower cost real food basics. Blessed! Blessed! Blessed!

It’s easy to get frustrated when we work hard in the kitchen to put good food on the table and we are greeted by grumbling. It’s discouraging when we know the importance of healthy eating and our family asks for hotdogs and Cheetos. I definitely don’t have all the answers for you when it comes to picky kids or husbands. Very few people in the world will “eat anything you put in front of them.”  That’s okay, right? God made us all different, with different tastes and preferences.

Two Things:

1. Pray

Just like anything, we need God’s help to help us on this real food journey. Pray for God to help you as you make decisions and encourage your family to eat well. Let God do His work in this. He’s amazing. He’ll continue to prove it to you. Praise Him when your picky child eventually eagerly gobbles down his veggies. It will happen!

2. Keep Trying

If you give in every time you hear a complaint, you’ll be throwing out the good food without helping anyone give it a fair chance. It takes time to get our taste preferences and cravings past food filled with MSG and artificial ingredients. Real food does taste different. It tastes better, of course, but if a person is used to high sodium, flavor enhanced “food,” getting used to and learning to love real food does take some time. Introduce new, real foods slowly. A carrot here, a smoothie there, real cheese for a snack instead of processed – they’ll get there. God will help.

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One trick that has helped our family in the transition to eating real food is sticking with fun, kid friendly, favorite foods (like pizza, chicken nuggets, and tacos) – but making them with healthy ingredients. It keeps us from feeling “deprived,” it makes hospitality easier, it tastes delicious.

Want some tips to help you recreate your favorite recipes into healthy foods? Read this post on How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier. Also, you may find the following downloadable chart helpful. If a recipe calls for_____________, use ________________. Healthy recipe substitutions are much easier than you think!

healthy recipe substitutions

Download and print the Healthy Recipe Substitutions chart to help you as you adapt recipes!

How do you help transition picky eaters at your house?

How to Roast Vegetables {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 29}

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Vegetables just keep coming up during this series, don’t they? They are the best real food out there, so I can’t say enough about the importance of working them into our diets in a big way!

When I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on our menu plan that I was determined to make and eat cauliflower that week – you all really came through on some great ideas for ways to prepare it! Many of you told me that I had to try roasting the cauliflower.  That definitely seemed like the easiest first idea to try.

Here’s what I’ve learned since then:  Not only is it a delicious way to eat vegetables, it’s also one of the easiest ways to prepare them. Roasting offers a slight variety in taste and texture, compared to steaming the vegetables as I usually do. I’m loving this, and can’t wait to continue roasting more varieties of vegetables as we work to expand our menu options.

If you are taking baby steps in your real food journey, I encourage you to try roasting vegetables to serve with your meals. Healthy eating doesn’t get much easier!

roasted cauliflower

How to Roast Vegetables:

1. Wash the fresh vegetables.
2. Cut vegetables into small pieces. (The smaller they are, the easier they are to pop into your mouth!)
3. Place vegetable pieces into a casserole dish.
4. Drizzle on 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil or melted coconut oil.
5. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.
6. Stir veggies to coat with olive oil and salt.
7. Bake in a 375° oven for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are lightly browned and tender.

It really is that simple. Makes me wonder why I haven’t tried this before.

Carrots, broccoli, squash, asparagus…what else would be a tasty roasted veggie?

Drink Your Nourishment {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 28}

Three meals. Every single day.  Plus snacks. I’m over it! Please pass me a bag of chips.

Oh yes – I’ve been there. Some days, I’m still there. Can’t we just get a little break from all the food needs?

Whether you’re just starting your journey to healthy eating, or you’ve been on the journey for quite a while – being sure to get plenty of nourishment day after day after day can become overwhelming if we allow it.  But don’t fall back on a bag of chips in your frustrated moments. After all, you would crush the bag of chips, and wouldn’t that be a shame? You would also just be filling a hole, not giving your body anything it needs to thrive, and likely, you’ll still be hungry – because our bodies crave nutrients! And sometimes Doritos.  But truly, the more we fill ourselves with real food, the less our bodies will ask for the junk. I promise (says the former Pepsi addict).

Today, I want to combine two thoughts that I’ve shared within this Real Food Reality series:  Food is Nourishment. What a Concept. and You Are What You Drink.

It is very fun to put together delicious, nourishing drinks. These drinks can be used as a meal or a snack. The variety of options is limitless. They are filling. You can get creative. You can use what you have on hand. You can use what you find on sale.

Feeling overwhelmed with ways to offer your family nourishment? Try a fun drink option! Here are some of our family’s favorite, nourishing drinks:

Warm, Nourishing Drinks

Warm Chocolate Soother

Warm Chocolate Soother

Chocolate Mint Soother

Chocolate Mint Soother

Warm Pumpkin Custard

Warm_Pumpkin_Custard

Warm Vanilla Soother

Warm Vanilla Soother

Cold, Nourishing Drinks

Creamy Orange Cooler

Creamy Orange Cooler

Pineapple Mango Smoothies

Pineapple Mango Smoothie

All Kinds of Smoothies

smoothies

Pineapple-Orange Slushies

Pineapple Orange Slushies

Strawberry Peach Slushy

Strawberry Peach Slushy

Chocolate Milkshakes

Chocolate Milkshakes

Strawberry Milkshakes (substitute another variety of frozen fruit if you like)

Strawberry Milkshake

 

What are your favorite nourishing drinks?

What I Learned in Laura’s Kitchen {A Real Food Reality Guest Post From My Friend Charlene}

My friend Charlene visited our family last summer with her three kids. I asked her to share her perspective on our Real Food Reality. I think you’ll enjoy reading what she shares! Here’s Char…

I had the huge privilege of spending several weeks at Laura’s house this last summer. I got to sit in her kitchen and watch her prepare meals, plan menus, and try new recipes. I truly wish every one of you could do the same…mostly because hanging out with Laura is a joy, but also because watching her do what she does? It’s inspiring! By the end of our trip, I knew I could make some simple changes that would have a HUGE impact. It’s not like I haven’t been reading Laura’s posts for, well, forever, or that I didn’t “know” the information in my head… but sitting and watching (and eating the food) made such a difference in how I felt about making important changes.

So, here are a few things I learned:

1. Laura really DOES have a hard time talking and cooking at the same time She and my daughter made muffins together, but they were not quite as fluffy as they were originally supposed to be because they left something out. We were talking, the boys were in and out of the kitchen (I have two boys, to add to Laura’s four, so it was BUSY), and Martha was “helping.”Ok.. ok.. ANYONE would have a hard time getting a recipe correct under those circumstances. But it really did turn out just fine, because the muffins were still yummy – just not airy.

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2. Whole, REAL food tastes better than anything you could ever get at a restaurant.  My family typically eats “out” a LOT. I promise you that the food we ate at Laura’s house was nourishing, yummy, and so much better for us than what we eat when we go out. My children loved it. They were anxious for meal times to see what Miss Laura was going to prepare. They tried a LOT of new things, and most everything was a big hit. My personal favorite? It’s hard to choose because everything was so, so good, but Laura’s Thousand Island Dressing is to die for. I would eat salad at every meal (well, maybe not breakfast), just to get more of this dressing. I am not much of a “dipper”, but I would dip any veggie in this stuff and sigh with happiness.

3. Every meal we ate at Laura’s house (EVERY meal!) included raw fruits and veggies.  My kids LOVED this! Blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, oranges in the morning for breakfast… all those and apple slices, carrot sticks, broccoli, and more for lunch and dinner. None of it needed to be cooked to be eaten, and it’s SO EASY. Need to add more fruits and veggies to your meals? Go raw!

How to Serve Fruits and Veggies

4. Butter really IS our friend.  (Read more about this here.)  Butter makes everything taste better. Put down the margarine and don’t ever use it again. Really. (I actually already knew this before our visit, but it’s so important, and the food prepared with butter was SO good, it bears repeating in my list).

5. A plan is a good thing.  I’m a list maker in my business and keeping track of kids’ activities, but for some reason I often don’t take the time to plan menus or make thought-out grocery lists. My goal for 2014 is to change that, because it just makes life easier and more organized if you have a menu and a list. I want to work towards never again asking the question at 5 p.m., “What are we going to eat tonight”?? And, really – we don’t have to work that hard. Laura has tons of menus already pre-done. Ok, that’s a resolution I can take off my list. Just download Laura’s menus, and hit the store running.      And if you were to visit her kitchen, you’d see that Laura has her weekly menu up on the fridge, so she can look at it any time and see what her plan is, or revise her plan based on last-minute changes in daily life.

6. It’s not complicated. It’s really not.  Laura is a master at making wholesome food for her family (and friends), and doing it quickly and easily. It’s her passion, and she’s GOOD at it. But, don’t be intimidated. This really was the most important lesson I took away from the few weeks sitting at her feet. You and I can do this too, because it’s just really not that hard. Our family is busy. Crazy busy. Three kids, school projects, karate, dance classes, home-based business (or two).  We eat on the fly a lot, often making poor choices because of poor planning, and a mistaken idea that it’s “too      hard” or too much work to fix healthy, real food meals for my family.

But, if I make a few changes here and there? I can do this! When I am making a casserole – I will make two, so I always have a back-up in the freezer. Need a salad to go with the meal? Cut up some lettuce and put it in a bowl (bonus points if I cut up a tomato too!). Prepare a ton of the Thousand Island Dressing ahead of time, so I can have it with my lettuce in a bowl. Buy a bunch of raw fruits and veggies      every week, wash them, cut them, prepare them all at once, and then pull them out at EVERY meal. Make a plan. Make a grocery list, and stick with it. Get my kids to help with easy prep work (like fruits and veggies prep, so they have healthy snacks on the go).

Seriously – such  simple changes that will make a HUGE difference, and if *I* can do it, so can you!

Note from Laura:  The rest of you should come visit some time! But be warned. Charlene is right. I’m really not very good at talking and cooking at the same time :)

 

Menu Plan for the Week {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 26}

Just a few days left in our 31 Days of Real Food Reality series!  Hopefully, reading the series has been an encouragement to you. Or at least maybe you’ve been convinced to eat real butter. :)

Today’s Real Food Reality Tip:  Have fun playing with recipes, making them work for your family’s real food tastes and needs!

For instance, our family has fallen in love with this Cheeseburger Soup recipe.  I have been making it once a week for the past few weeks. To keep life exciting (because clearly, not much exists in life that is more exciting than soup in a bowl) – sometimes I substitute the potatoes in the recipe with whole wheat or brown rice pasta. It is delicious this way! Plus, dumping in noodles saves me a few extra minutes if I don’t want to take the time to prepare potatoes.

Cheeseburger Soup

I’ve also shared that sometimes I make our Raspberry Oatmeal Bars with different varieties of jelly. It’s fun to take basic, favorite recipes and play with them to add variety without adding extra work!

Mix and Match Oatmeal Bars

Here’s our menu plan for this week. I may or may not be tweaking some of these recipes to keep life interesting. :)

Sunday, January 26
Instant oatmeal, apple slices
Beef stew, quick mix biscuits, fruit salad
Hamburgers, carrot sticks, spinach salad

Monday, January 27
Mix and match bars, applesauce
Popcorn chicken, roasted cauliflower, sliced sweet peppers, spicy avocado dip with chips
Chicken fried steak strips, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas

Tuesday, January 28
Honey cinnamon muffins, scrambled eggs, clementines
Cheeseburger soup, sliced cucumbers with ranch dip, pears
Pizza casserole, tossed salad, steamed broccoli and carrots

Wednesday, January 29
Warm chocolate soother, toast with peanut butter, oranges
Tuna casserole, peas, grapes
Spaghetti squash with pasta sauce, steamed asparagus, green beans

Thursday, January 30
Sweet potato streusel muffins, turkey sausage, bananas
Salmon patties, potato wedges, green beans
Homemade pizza, tossed salad, carrots with ranch dip

Friday, January 31
Pumpkin chocolate chip bread, applesauce
Rice and veggie stir fry, with broccoli, carrots, and zucchini
Sloppy joes, sweet potato fries, peas

Saturday, February 1
Bacon cheesy eggs, honey whole wheat bagels, oranges
Leftovers
Creamy chicken and rice casserole, tossed salad, fried zucchini

Do you like playing with recipes or do you prefer to follow a recipe precisely?

You CAN Save Money on Whole Foods! {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 25}

Let’s eat right and save money too!

When we were first changing over from processed foods and white flour/white sugar products, I was so discouraged at first when I saw the costs of healthier foods. I used to have so much fun shopping with coupons and finding good deals at the store. Now, it seemed, I would need to throw all my coupons away and maybe stop wearing shoes or paying the heat bill so that we could afford groceries. Healthy food seemed to cost twice or three times as much as I was used to paying!

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A few tears and several months of research later, I found that while yes, some foods were just going to cost us more money (since they contained real food ingredients instead of cheap high fructose corn syrup and the like) – there were many ways to keep our food budget reasonable. God knew my desires and blessed us with resources. He always provides – no matter where you live and what your circumstances.

My coupon clipping hobby has been replaced by a new healthier, money saving hobby:  Figuring out recipes for healthy meals and snacks that can be made at low cost. Seeking local sources of food that are reasonably priced, nourishing, and support our hard working neighbors and farmers. Finding deals online that are delivered right to my door – saving me gas money, time, effort, and energy.  I also had to recognize that the extra I am spending in food is money I’m often saving on health care costs – even if I don’t see the difference right away.

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Want to learn to make real food meals and snacks that are low in cost? My website is full of them. Want to find local sources of food that fit your budget? Keep your ears open, ask questions of those around you, and check out LocalHarvest.org to see what is available in your area. Want to find some online deals so healthy foods can be delivered to your door? I’ll continue to share them in blog posts as I find them (often!).

What’s fun is that online stores offer sales and sometimes even coupons too! Free shipping is my friend, so I’ve learned ways to make this happen for online grocery purchases. You really can’t beat the ease of having healthy food delivered (for free!) to your door.

Here are some great online resources and deals to check out:

Amazon Groceries

Did you know you can buy all kinds of groceries at Amazon? I am always amazed at the sales Amazon offers. If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free on most products. If you choose five subscribe and save items in one month’s time, you get an additional 20% off those items. AND, Amazon offers many grocery coupons you can clip to add to the wonderful discounts you’re already getting. I have so much fun shopping Amazon groceries! (Some Amazon grocery coupons are for not-so-healthy foods, so if you see those, run far, far away.)

In addition, I use Swagbucks, which I redeem for Amazon gift cards. This means I can take advantage of all the great deals I find at Amazon, plus use a gift card to get the food for free or partially free! Learn more about Swagbucks here.

Price-Matching

I live in a small town, so my grocery options are not very competitive. But I have a Walmart in town that price-matches all the grocery stores an hour away from me in big cities! Taking the time to Price-Match has saved us thousands! I price match the good deals on fruits and vegetables each week and we load up.

Read more about price-matching here. I’ve found Pricematerz.com to be a fantastic resource to make the list-making easier.

What is Price-Matching and How Does it Work

Vitacost

Vitacost runs great sales, so I’ve learned to check their site frequently and stock up depending on the sale prices. If you’re a brand new customer with Vitacost, if you sign up through this referral link, you’ll receive an automatic $10 of credit to spend on your first $30 order.  If you buy at least $25 worth of Vitacost brand products, you’ll receive free shipping. Or, if you don’t want any Vitacost brand items, you’ll receive free shipping once you hit $49.

Here’s a sample of how to get the most out of your Vitacost free credit:

  1. Sign up through this referral link to receive a $10 coupon code through your email.
  2. Choose $30 worth of Vitacost brand items, such as…
    Organic Slivered Almonds  $4.75
    Organic Cacao Powder  $12.89
    Organic Thompson Raisins  $3.99
    Organic Dried Apricots  $5.49
    Organic Shredded Coconut  $2.49
    Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds $6.19  (such a delicious treat!)
  3. This totals $35.80 of Vitacost Brand Products. Use your referral code to receive $10 off your order. Because you still have $25 worth of Vitacost products in your cart, shipping will be free for all of those great groceries!

Once you are a customer with Vitacost, you can then refer your friends through your blog, email, facebook or twitter, and receive $10 of credit for each new customer who makes a purchase through your link! This is a wonderful way to earn some extra healthy grocery cash!

Vitacost also carries many gluten free items.

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iHerb

Have you ever shopped at iHerb? If so, you know how many great products they carry. If you’re a brand new customer, that means you get $10 off your first order of $40!

Here’s a sample $40 order that you can get for just $30 (with free shipping!):

Grand total for this cart full of real food is $40.15.  If you are a new customer, you can use my referral code: BID487 to receive $10 off your $40+ order. That means you get all that food I mentioned – or whatever you choose to put into your cart, for just a little over $30! Shipping is free on any order over $20.

Doesn’t that list look like fun? Think of all you can make! iHerb also carries a lot of gluten free products.

Tropical Traditions

The quality of Tropical Traditions food (and health and beauty) products is incredible. They offer free shipping every few weeks. This, coupled with their buy-one-get-one-free deals is wonderful. I just posted about a great coconut oil deal with free shipping. Did you take advantage of that yet?

tropical traditions coconut oil

Don’t be discouraged as you learn new ways of purchasing food. Instead, look at it as an adventure! Have fun finding new sources for real food products. I’ll do my best to continue to make it easy for you!

This post contains affiliate links.

Want to learn all the best ways to save money?

You’ll definitely want to be a part of our Homemaker’s Savings Club! Not only do we start out by giving you a free cookbook full of our favorite low cost, real food recipes – we keep you updated with the best homemaking freebies and sale prices each week. People have saved big bucks being a part of this, not to mention time since we do all the hard work for you weeding out the so-so deals and finding all the best to tell you about!!

Want To Eat Right? Plan Ahead {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 24}

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One of the best ways to be consistent when it comes to healthy eating is to take a few minutes to make a plan. Without a plan, you’ll likely get frustrated, overwhelmed, and fall back on convenience foods that may not offer much nourishment.

I know you know this already, and I know not everyone is a planner-aheader. As a matter of fact, I’m not always good at planning ahead either. But if I can at least plan a little bit. If I can at least have some ideas in mind of healthy foods I can make from the ingredients I have on hand. If I can at least have a few healthy foods prepared and in the freezer. Well, it sure does save my brain, my budget, and my having to resort to not-so-healthy foods in a pinch.

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Dark Chocolate Granola

Here are some of my best planning-ahead tips:

Get into the habit of taking time to plan.

Sure enough, it does take time to make a meal plan. It takes effort to sit down and get myself organized when it comes to what we’ll be eating each day. There is no magic formula or magic wand to wave to put real food on the table without effort. But the time I save later after having spent time planning our meals for the week? Wow is it worth it!

Don’t make it difficult. Simply pick a main dish and a vegetable/fruit or two for sides. Don’t feel locked into your plan. Use it as a guide and be flexible. I switch our planned menu around all week long based on what sounds good each day. But since I’ve got a plan, I know I’ve got the food, so I can roll with it!

Always try to keep basic staple ingredients on hand.

Here’s a list of ingredients I try to always have available. If I have basics on hand, there’s no end to what I can make at a moment’s notice! At the very least, I believe it’s a good idea to keep a package of pasta and a jar of sauce on hand at all time to fall back on.

Always have frozen vegetables in your freezer.

That way, no matter what main dish you end up serving, you’ve got a vegetable in the freezer to pull out and steam to go with your meal.

Take advantage of resources available to help.

If planning meals isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to make it easier for you.  You can always take a look at the menu plans I post each week to give you ideas. Better yet, there are services like Plan to Eat that practically do the work of meal planning for you. You can drag and drop your meal ideas into an online calendar, and Plan to Eat will even create a grocery list for you. It doesn’t get any easier! Their goal is to help make it possible for families eat together in their home. What a great service they provide! (You can sign up for a free 30 day trial here.)

What do you do in an effort to plan ahead for healthy eating?

This post was sponsored by Plan to Eat. I can’t say enough good about all they offer!

Chocolate Cheesecake Pie ~ Real Food Ingredients Make Real Good Treats

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I sure do love the fact that eating real food does not limit us. In fact, I believe it frees us! Do you know all the wonderful food that can be made with just a few real food ingredients? Pretty much everything, including Twinkies. (Although I never have figured out how to make a maraschino cherry without using a bunch of sugar and red food coloring. I guess we’ll just stick with real cherries.)

This Chocolate Cheesecake Pie recipe is so simple, so delicious, and made with all real food ingredients. You still want to make sure you consider this a very occasional treat, because sucanat is still sugar.  But how nice is it that we don’t have to resort to boxed mixes or spend hours in the kitchen when we want to make something special. In fact, last week when I made this, I had a pie crust already baked in the freezer. All I had to do was throw the filling ingredients into the food processor, give it a whirl, then spread the mixture into my pie crust. Seven minutes later – Chocolate Cheesecake Pie!

Chocolate Cheesecake PieYum

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Baked and cooled whole wheat pie crust

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Mix in cream cheese, sucanat, cocoa powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Pour mixture into a baked and cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. Or skip the pie chilling step if your kids are breathing down your neck and asking for a slice before you even get the filling into the crust. Why wait?!

Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Don’t want chocolate in this pie? Skip the cocoa powder and end up with plain ol’ Cheesecake Pie. Or leave out the cocoa and add a splash of lemon juice for Lemon Cheesecake Pie.  Or a splash of lime juice for Lime Cheesecake Pie. See how much fun real food ingredients can be? It gives us the freedom to go crazy in the kitchen! Trust me, crazy in the kitchen is what I do best.

What fun treats do you make with real food ingredients?